DA calls on Xasa to investigate maladministration at Walter Sisulu Municipality

MARCH 29, 2017
DA calls on Xasa to investigate maladministration at Walter Sisulu Municipality

The Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Fikile Xasa, is now compelled to conduct an investigation into Walter Sisulu Local Municipality, which includes the towns of Aliwal North, Jamestown, Venterstad, Steynsburg and Burgersdorp, after the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape wrote to him, highlighting instances of maladministration in the municipality.

"The investigation into Walter Sisulu Local Municipality must be done in terms of section 106 of the Systems Act which states that if an MEC has any reason to believe that maladministration is occurring at a municipality, the MEC can, if necessary designate a person to investigate the matters," said Vicky Knoetze (MPL), the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance.

She said that this request by the DA comes as a result of numerous incidences that point to maladministration:

  • The cash-strapped Walter Sisulu Municipality owes Eskom over R140-million (R117-million for Aliwal North and Burgersdorp and R23-million for Venterstad). The municipality has been instructed to pay R55-million of this debt by the end of March 2017 or face the consequences of no power for residents.
  • Eight vehicles have been attached due to pensions that have not been paid out. The municipality further owes pension funds over R24-million.
  • The DA warned the Demarcations Board in 2015 that to merge two already poor-performing and maladministered municipalities (Gariep and Maletswai) would be disastrous. Less than a year into the newly amalgamated municipality (Walter Sisulu Municipality) and the wheels have already started to come off.
  • It further came to light that this cash-strapped municipality planned to have a council meeting in East London on 30 March 2017, preceded by an alleged strategic planning session of which no members of the opposition received any notice. To plan a 700km round trip and five nights accommodation for at least 35 people when you cannot pay Eskom is absolutely absurd. It further hampers the right of the community of Walter Sisulu Municipality to participate in the council meeting. This planned session in East London was cancelled on Sunday evening due to the fact that no suitable venue could be found, nevermind the fact that there is no justification for this exorbitant, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Especially when this municipalities budget is only R96-million but outstanding large debt is R188-million.
  • The municipality wants to operate autonomously and won’t take direction from provincial authorities but is quick to knock on the door of the province for financial bailouts.

"The financial situation in Walter Sisulu Municipality has reached crisis level and is no longer capable of acting autonomously especially in terms of its financial position," Knoetze added.

"Provincial authorities must intervene as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that Walter Sisulu Municipality is able to meet its financial obligations and is in a position to deliver services to its people.

"I will vigorously pursue this matter through the various legislature channels. The DA is committed to turning local government around in the Eastern Cape."